Choosing the right livery yard really comes down to personal preference as well as your needs at a certain point in your life. Of course, that means that a yard which is perfect now may not be perfect in five years, so how do you make sure you choose the right one? Here are some tips to get you on the right track.
Type of Yard
Firstly, you need to consider your own lifestyle and what type of yard you want. If you’re on a budget, you’ll probably want to avoid full livery as it can be costly, but if your time is limited and you can afford it then full livery or even competition livery could be the perfect option for you. You’ll want to bear in mind whether you can go up to groom, feed and bring in or out twice a day or only once a day, whether you travel often for work, whether the yard will be convenient on your commute and how it will generally fit in with your day to day life. If you're lookin
When you’re thinking about whether a yard will fit into your lifestyle, this includes the type of people in the livery yard, and especially the yard owner or manager. Make sure you meet the person running the place when you view the yard and see how you get along. If you and your 10-year-old daughter both want to ride and livery your horses together, you might want to look out for a yard with other kids around. Perhaps you want a very sociable yard with group hacks and mostly adults around? Or maybe you just want to keep to yourself. All of those options are fine, but choosing the right livery yard off the bat can help you to feel comfortable and happy with where you’re keeping your horse – hopefully for many years to come!
After that, you can move on to your horse’s needs. A youngster, retired horse or native pony who is used to living out full time might enjoy grass livery, for instance. Your high maintenance thoroughbred may be better suited to having a stable at night – and if you have both types of horses, you’ll probably want a yard with multiple livery options! It’s also important that when choosing a yard, you keep in mind what you plan to do with your horse and what facilities you need for that. If you want to jump competitively, then of course it would be best to choose a yard with a jumping arena and facilities that can help you work towards your goal.
Here are some factors to weigh up when thinking about the typical facilities and services which most yards offer, which may help you decide what you can and can’t live without:
- Arenas: Indoor/outdoor, big/small, dressage/jumping, sand/grass. The options here are endless and some people are happy to hack to other yards to hire their arenas or do their schooling in a field, whereas others want a dedicated place to practice their dressage tests come rain or shine.
- Lunging facilities – is there a lunge ring or do horses lunge in the arena?
- Quality of hacking – if hacking is important to you, then you’ll want to see how far you have to go for good, safe hacking.
- Type of stables (wooden, brick etc) and the type of equipment available, e.g. horse showers and horse solariums.
- Type of paddocking available: group paddocks/individual paddocks. Depending on you and your horse, this could be a deciding factor.
- Type of turnout on offer: all day/live out/limited turnout
- Using your own instructor/feed supplier/farrier/vet etc. Some yards insist you use only their preferred suppliers, which could be a problem if you have certain people and companies you like to work with or decide you don’t get along with the yard’s choice of instructor or farrier, for example.
Looking for more information? Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has a very informative guide which can be found here.